Showing posts with label Magic School. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magic School. Show all posts

Monday, October 1, 2018

Magic Kids for Magic School

I was talking with my kids this weekend about our Magic School game.  Since I first proposed the idea to them they have both discovered and fell in love with Call of Cthulhu.  As such my plans have drifted a bit and my magic school is more Miskatonic University rather than Hogwarts.

I'm still going to stick with B/X era Basic for this.  With all the material I have and what I want to do it just seems to be the better fit.

Over the weekend I went to my FLGS and we found these minis that would be PERFECT for a magic school game.




They are from WizKids and are called Wardlings. Each one is a kid with an animal companion.

We did not grab them all but we did get these based solely on their pets. 
They are great little sculpts and the pets are cute as hell.
I just had to have that winged cat for my witches.

Love the little moon design on his fur.

Currently, there are two waves out, Wardlings 1 and Wardlings 2.  I have heard that there is a third one on the way, but I can't find confirmation of that.

Can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #167

Moving ahead to one of the "newer" issues in my collection.  This comes to us from the distant past of March 1991.  I was a senior in college, but would take another year to finish up my honors courses, my minor and to take a few grad school classes before getting into grad school.  I was not really playing much at this point, but still buying and reading a bunch of Ravenloft games and books.
I believe by this time I had printed out the first solid draft of my witch class for 2nd Ed and was revising it more.  So without further ado here is March 1991 and this is issue #167 of This Old Dragon.

To the cover.  Ok. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate faces on inanimate objects? Cars, trains, especially airplanes. But more than anything TREES!  I think it some deep-seated childhood trauma related to both "Wizard of Oz" and "From Hell it Came".   My family will taunt me with it by giving trees with faces on them for Halloween.  Anyway.  The girl on here looks she wandered off from a Clyde Caldwell cover and is slumming here.  The artist is Fred Fields.

You can tell this is the 90s Dragon because of all the ads.  Mind you I am not complaining; I like the ads.  But there are more. More pages in general too.

Given this is the era near 2nd Edition the Dragons all have themes.  This one is the Wilderness.  I liked the themed issues, gave me something to look forward too.

The Editorial is an interesting one with addresses for you to send something to anyone serving in the US or British military.  I guess this is the time of Operation Desert Storm.

Up first is ...holy shit! it's the OSR's very own +Joseph Bloch! (hmm auto-tagging is not working on this). He is up with an article right in his wheel-house, See the Pomarj - and Die!  The three page article (four with cover image) is a bit of history on the Pomarj. It even has some details about the Slave Lords and plenty of old-school tables.   This is some good stuff that I wish I had known about when running the A-series recently. Ah well.

David Howery is next with Back to the Age of Mammals, taking us back to when the dinosaurs did their disappearing act and the mammals took over. There are a ton of great, untapped and underused creatures.  One of my favorites is even here, the Amphicyon.  I used my own version for a primitive were-wolf/were-bear hybrid back when I ran Palace of the Silver Princess.  This really makes this issue a stand out in my mind.

The Ecology of the Su-Monster would have been something I would have eaten up back in the day. Matthew Schutt gives us an updated version of these monsters and they work.  I always liked these little monsters. I ran an adventure where the locals worshiped as a god.

Gregg Chamberlain is next with the Dragon's Bestiary with various plant-based monsters.

Curses are Divine* But their effects on your fantasy hero are horrible! by Mark Keavney which details major and minor divine curses.  This is not the curses of the 3rd level spell, these are special and really powerful.  Also detailed are the situation where someone can find themselves so cursed.

TSR Previews tells us what is hot for March 1991 and beyond. On the list is RA2 Ravenloft Ship of Horror, a favorite of mine. Though I would always call it "Ship of Fools" after the Robert Plant song.

Arcane Lore by Jeffrey Pettengill has some expansions to the 2nd Ed Necromancer specialty wizard and necromancy spells.

Bruce Heard is back with more Princess Ark.  I am planning on collecting these and using some of it for my BECMI Magic School game.

Role of Computers covers the best of 1990.  Again, it's hard to review a review of the "State of the Art" of 27 years ago.

Sage Advice covers some Monstrous Compendium Vol II questions and the perennial question of how do I find a gaming group.

Peter Trueman as what he calls "a more realistic approach to fantasy" in Just Give me Money!  It's a long article that details maybe than you would want to know about coins.  Or maybe it is sort of the detail you like.  For me, it is more log-work than I like in my games.  Once I ate this stuff up.

Marvel-Phile deals with some of Spider-man's foes from across the pond in England in The Lads from Liverpool.  Spiders and Beatles. cute.

Nice big and water-damaged ad for Chill (2nd Edition).

(gotta be honest here. This issue is testing the mettle of my allergy drugs!)

Thomas Kane gives us some NPCs from historical references for an Oriental Adventures game in Lords of the Warring States. We are still in that odd overlap time of 1st and 2nd Editions.

Con Calendar is huge this month.

Ed is back. Am I at a point yet where I can say "Ed" and you all know I mean Ed Greenwood?  Instead of his normal conversation with Elminster, he ends up talking to Laeral of Waterdeep.  I do not begrudge Ed this, it is always entertaining and even when I didn't like the Realms I liked these articles.  This time he is covering the Undermoutain - the King of All Dungeons.  Ok. So. It's an ad for the new Undermountain boxed set.  Yeah, I can't even be irritated by that.

Role of Books from John C. Bunnell has the best of late winter/early spring 1991 including one that is STILL on my TBR pile, Deryni Magic by Katherine Kurtz.  Yeah, Grad School was not conducive to pleasure reading.

And just like that, we are at Dragonmirth.   The big feature is The Twilight Realm, which is on part 11.  I really know nothing about that strip, I should look into it more.

Ah, here are the small ads and classifieds.

Ok. Not a packed issue, but a lot of great bright spots like Joe's and Bruce's contributions.
I wonder what else I have from this time? Will be fun to see!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Campaign Updates:2018

Work has me crazy busy, but this is a good thing.  The downside is I have not had the time to blog as much as I want or even get in the campaign prep in at night.  So I thought I would kill two birds today and see where I am in my games.



Active Games

The Dragon Slayers
A 3.x game that was briefly 5e and now fully converted to 1st Edition AD&D.  The characters were trapped in Baba Yaga's Hut for nearly a year. They freed the Old Crone and her daughter Elena the Fair.  Up next the final battle. I am using the Tom Moldvay adventure Twilight Calling for this.

Next are my three interlinked 5th edition games collectively known as Come Endless Darkness. Tharizdûn is returning to the multiverse and the PCs of the three campaigns need to stop him.

The Order of the Platinum Dragon
The Order has defeated all the giants and are now wandering the Underdark looking for the Drow. The big bads here are Lolth and Graz'zt.  Graz'zt is setting up Lolth much like he is described doing in Expedition to the Demonweb Pits (for 3.5e).  I try to focus on classic monsters in this one.

Second Campaign
The Treasure Hunters of the Second Campaign have just entered the Forbidden City. Here the big bad is Demogorgon.  Here the focus is on other creatures that might not see normal games.

Into the Netir Vale
Known by my kids as the Orcus campaign. This is my revived and converted 4e campaign brought over whole cloth. I might lessed the involvement with the Raven Queen and play up Shar since this is part of the Forgotten Realms in my house.

All three games will meet up at the Temple of Elemental Evil to battle it out with the risen Tharizdûn.  So roughly 18 characters of 18th to 20th level.  It's gonna be wild.

Inactive/On-hold Games
These games are all inactive for a number of reasons.

Star Trek: Voyages of the USS Protector
This game is will be using White Star with my own "Black Star" rules modifications.  I have the first adventures ready to go, "The Stars Are Right" and "These Are the Voyages".  I have two more nearly ready "Ghost Ship" and "Abraxas Down".  I want to do two more.  I have been scribbling notes on rule changes and feel like the rest I can do while the game is moving along. 
What is really slowing me down is the wiring of the LED lights I want to put into my USS Protector Model!

Spirit of '76
On indefinite hold.

Hero's Journey to Middle Earth
This one is requiring some significant reading on my part.  As my first REALY foray into Middle Earth as a game world I want to do it right.

Magic School 
This one is on hold till I am done with Come Endless Darkness. Since this one will use D&D Rules Cyclopedia and I really want it to feel like a separate game.   Plus things that happen in CED will change the world of the Magic School and I don't know what those are yet!

War of the Witch Queens
This is the higher level version of the Magic School kids.  What happens here will also be determined by what the PCs do in CED.  I have all the adventures for this, just not the end game.



The Incredibly Awesome (and Not At All Made-Up) Adventures of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle!
Huh...ok this one was a little bit of a joke, but I keep getting asked about it.  I do have one adventure worked out that introduces the PCs to the world. Called "Damn It Barry Allen!" it sets up Booster and Blue as the true heroes of the DC world, it's just that no one can remember them.

I still have to get my new Blue Rose campaign going.  I ran the first adventure, Kingdom of Rain, and it went great.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Magic School: So you Want to Go to Magic School?

No gaming this past weekend.  Thought about some of the entry requirements for my B/X|BECMI Magic School campaign.

Entry Requirements
Age: 13 (0-level, 2 hp+con bonus, see below)
Minimum Intelligence: 16 (15 in conditional admit)
Demonstrate the ability to cast one spell (cantrip).
Interview with the School.  (Role=play/first adventure)

Ability Scores
Ability Scores are rolled per normal; 3d6 in order*. (Considering 2d6+3 for Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution).
I will allow the highest ability to be placed in Intelligence without penalty.
Each year the student will get 1 point to place in an ability of their choice. Max is 18.

According to the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, humans with an Intelligence ability of 16 or more knows at least 4 languages.  Common, Alignment and two others.  These two (or more) additional languages will be learned in the school.  Typically students learn Elven and Draconic.  Other, more exotic languages can be learned by 3rd and 4th-year students.

Cantrips
I will have a universal system for learning cantrips.  If so, then the first spell the students know might be a Cantrip.

Students can take seven courses per year and one over the summer.

First Year Classes
Physical Conditioning I:  Each morning will begin with exercise and other physical conditioning training.  Often a wizard will be required to stand in a magic circle for hours on end chanting. Weak in the body is as dangerous as weak in the will here.  Students enrolled (mandatory for First Years) will have the full amount of hp for their Hit Die per Level (typically 4 + con bonus).

Herbs and their Properties: Necessary for material component understanding and a prerequisite for Alchemy and Magical Theory and Thought II.

Magical Theory and Thought I: Double course. Topics cover why and how magic works.

Ecclesiastic Studies I: The nature of gods and the planes.  Required for First years, optional after that.

Elvish I: Learning to speak, read and understand the major dialects of Elvish.

Mathematics:  Necessary for advanced Magic Theory and Alchemy.

End of the first year they are 1st level and know 1 1st level spell.

Summer Apprenticeships
Here students can get practical application knowledge.  Internships are on a first come, first served basis though faculty can also make placements.

Second Year Classes
PCII: Students continue their physical conditioning classes.

Intermediate Herbology: Plants helpful and harmful.

Ecclesiastics II: Advanced topics including the nature of Immortality, transmigration of the soul and the nature of undead. Required for Ecclesiastic and Necromancy students.

Magical Theory and Thought II: The nature of arcane magic, the use of material components. Discussion and case studies of the works of famous, but esoteric wizards.

Creatures I: The three textbooks affectionately called Monster Manual, Fiend Folio and Creature Catalog.

Draconic I: Learning to speak, write and understand the major dialects of Draconic.
Elvish II: Elvish and it's relationship to magic are covered.

Survey and Seminar: (half term) Covers the Colleges of the school and their disciplines.
Elective: (half term) First Elective choice.

End of the second year they are 2nd level and know 2 1st level spells.

Third Year Classes
Third Year is the year they take their specialization. These will depend on which "Colleges" I create.

Ecclesiastics III & Magical Theory and Thought III: This combine double class covers the natures of gods, deities, and spell granting powers including demon lords, Dukes of Hell and the Fey Lords.

PCIII: Advanced finger conditioning.  Known by fourth years as "the days of pain".

Draconic II: Learning to recognize and speak the "vulgar" dialects of Draconic.
Elvish III: Conversational High Elvish and Sylvan Elvish are covered in depth.

Creatures II: Exploration of the major works including the Ecologies.

End of the third year they are 3rd level and know 2 1st level spells and 1 2nd level spell.

Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Year Classes

These will be in the student's major area of study.

Courses that continue but are not required at this point are Ecclesiastics, Magical Theory & Thought, Draconic, and Elvish.

End of the fourth year they are 4th level and know 2 1st level spells and 2 2nd level spells.
End of the fifth year they are 5th level and know 2 1st level spells, 2 2nd level spells, and 1 3rd level spell.
End of the sixth year they are 6th level and know 2 1st level spells, 2 2nd level spells, and 2 3rd level spells.

Fields of Study (so far)
Alchemy
Bardic Magic
Dragonolgy/Dragonmancy
Necromancy
High Witchcraft

I might add more.  I think I am going to need a good "Basic Era" Alchemist class and a better Bard.  So far I am not 100% on any of the Bards I have seen so far.

Part of the plan is to use any and all the magic books I have in my collection, I have a lot of fun stuff and this would be a good chance to use them. 
With all the games I worked on over the years I figure I have written somewhere near 800 new spells. Might be fun to use all of that in one game.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Magic School: I have Hogwarts on my Miskatonic U!

Mulling some ideas over lunch today.

My kids have both over the years expressed an interest in more Lovecraft and Cthulhu themed games but not really wanting to go full on Call of Cthulhu.

So a few things came to mind right away.

- San Scores and Sanity rules.  As a former QMHP and someone with degrees in psychology, I have been largely critical of most of the "sanity" rules I see in games.  In fact, most of them suck.  My son is using an elegant option for sanity. Your wisdom modifier plus your constitution modifier plus 10.   I will still use San points as Sanity x 5.

- The College of Dreamers is gone.  If I am using the 2nd Ed Glantri school of magic as my base, then I am going to say that the School of Dream was destroyed last year.  No one knows why and because of that attendance and new admits are way down.  What happened of course is they connected to the Dream Lands and the Far Realm (mixing my CoC and D&D 3 terms) and it killed them all.  This is the first phase of the return of the Old Ones.  Totally stealing this idea from the Wizards 101 MMORPG.  This is the big mystery of the 1st Years, what happened to the Dream College (not to be confused with the Dream Academy).  They won't learn till later in the term or even next year.

- With the Dream College gone, the School lessens admit standards.  What this means is Bards are now allowed. I am even considering a type of healer.

- All characters will have a Psionic wild power.   This is another side effect of the return of the Old Ones.  I just have not figured out if I am going to use the wild psionic powers of Basic Psionics Handbook or Realms of Crawling Chaos.  I am going to use both books in other ways.

So this game will have much more horror influences even though I am planning on avoiding using demons and devils for the most part.  Undead will be fine. It is Glantri afterall.  I will add some of elements from Ravenloft, though "Gothic Horror" and "Cosmic Horror" are not always a good mix.

Not 100% sure how this will all fit into the "War of the Witch Queens", but I have lots of time to figure that one out.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Magic School: Going Back to Glantri

Curse my gamemastering ADHD!

So despite the fact that I have not one, not two, but THREE D&D 5th Edition games going, I was working out some details of my Magic School game using the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

So last night I pulled out my GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri by +Bruce Heard and my Glantri: Kingdom of Magic.

I thought I might run it set in Glantri's past, 800 or so AC.  OR even 1000 AC which is close to the present day for the Gazetteer.  My current year is 1414-something AC.

But there is so much great stuff here.

This is going to focus 100% on the magic school so the political goings-on will be part of the background noise.

Though I DO want to expand on my whole Ravenloft is from Mystara/Glantri idea some more too and introduce a young professor of Alchemy from Boldavia, Strahd von Zarovich. Gives me an excuse/hook to drop in Ravenloft II.

But back to the school.

There are the Seven Secret Crafts of Magic in the Glantri School of Magic; Alchemy, Dracology, Elementalism, Illusionism, Necromancy, Cryptomancy (rune magic), and Witchcraft.

These were restructured in the 2nd Ed book, notably Witchcraft becoming Wokanism and Illusion dropped in favor of Dream Magic.  I am keeping Dream Magic from one and Witchcraft from the other.

I am thinking of adding others.  I would love to add a School of Healing; an exception to the normal rule of priests/clerics.  And MAYBE Druids.   I know they don't fit, but I like them.

Couple things I am considering.  Back in the Day I had a wizard character, Phygora, who was a
Glantri trained mage, but he "disappeared".  In reality, the mini I used belonged to my old DM.  He recently sold them all to me so now I have all these REALLY old lead minis including a recently repainted Phygora.  So guess who is now the new Headmaster!  Dosen't matter if I set this in the present or the past since in my game Phygora became something of a time-traveler.

I know that this campaign will go from level 1 to 7 (or 0 to 6), after that I want to move it over to my War of the Witch Queens.   I was talking with +Brian Isikoff this morning and he is considering doing something with Magic School grads and Bruce Heard's Calidar.  I think that is a fantastic idea!
Flying magic ships, flying circuses, I am SO there.

I just need more time to play!
But in the meantime, I can work out all these details.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Joy of Basic D&D & Magic School

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of ALL editions of D&D.  I have played them all, and all to a significant degree.  But my start, and in many ways, my true love is Basic D&D.  B/X flavor in particular.  With the D&D Rules Cyclopedia now out in POD I am going to take some time to go back and play some of the D&D that I played the least; BECMI.

I have had some ideas for various "Basic" games over the years.  I want to take my 4e Campaign and reboot that as a BECMI one, but instead, I morphed it into a 5e one.  I still want my War of the Witch Queens to be a B/X adventure, but it really could become a BECMI one since I really would love to take advantage of all 36 levels that BECMI offers me.   But in truth, I had no idea what I wanted to do until this morning.

A couple of posts on Facebook in various "old school" groups has new players, maybe ones more familiar with Post-TSR D&D, lamenting that Magic-Users/Wizards only get one spell at 1st level.
While this is familiar ground for old-school gamers, I do sympathize with these players.
Some of this for me goes back to the 4th Edition games. In 4e a 1st level wizard is quite competent with a number of spells they can use right off the bat.  In a way, it is what you would expect from a graduate from a magic school.  But in other ways, it also makes a less compelling "story".  4e Wizards might be closer to Harry Potter, or Harry Dresden, but they are not close to the Luke Skywalker model of the new adventurer with plenty talent but no training.
This train of thought got me thinking about Basic and BECMI in particular as a means to "grow into" 4e.  A lot of my analysis was on how much magic and "Combat power" a single wizard has from levels 1 to 6 in BECMI and compare that to 4e.  The goal was to have levels 1 through 6 to be training and then levels 7 to 36 map roughly onto 4e's levels 1 to 30.  The math is not perfect, as to be expected, but there is enough wiggle room that I liked it.

Well. I am not doing 4e now.  But the idea of levels 1 to 6 as "training levels" still appeals to me.


So my plan now is this.  I am going to create a magic school (long overdue really) and the characters are all magic users.  They enter the school at age 13 at level 1 and spend the next six years working towards graduation witch each year being the next level. They will graduate at age 19 at level 7 to start adventuring.

I have a lot of ideas of what needs to happen, but I also need to figure out how to fill up 80,000 xp worth of experiences that fit with a school environment.   Along the way, they can pick up specialties (Necromancy, Enchantment and so on).  Students will take classes in languages, finger position, and diction in addition to ones on Magical Theory and Thought.  I also see students working on magic items and potions.  This is where all those magic items and cursed items come from.

I am also going to borrow heavily from The Complete Wizard's Handbook for 2nd Ed. I am also going to borrow some ideas from theGlantri books, GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri (Basic) and Glantri: Kingdom of Magic (2e).


I *might* even set it all in Glantri, but I am also kind of wanting to set in my new campaign setting of West Haven.  Setting it in Glantri though has a lot of appeal to me.

Obvious sources for this are the Harry Potter books and movies, but also the Magicians books and TV series, the Magic schools from Charmed and Wizards of Waverly Place, various comics like the X-Men and Teen Titans and Miskatonic University.

I am going to give this one some serious thought, there is also so much material for this out there.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hex and Skylla's Magic School Reunion

I am still enjoying the release of the Glantri Gazeteer on DNDClassics.com.  One of the really fun things for me was of course the Magic School.  Loved the idea of a huge magical university, esp since I had gone off to University at that point myself.

The Seven Secret Crafts of the magic school also grabbed my attention.  They were Alchemy, Dracology, Elementalism, Illusion, Necromancy, Cyrptomancy and Witchcraft.  No surprise it got my notice.

I always wanted to try these out in a game, but by the time I had purchased this book I was moving on 2nd ed and gaming and grad school didn't mix so well.

With this new release I thought I would come back to it!  And I have two perfect characters to try out, Skylla and Hex.  

So former BFFs and now Frenemies have come back to Glantri's Magic School on their 10th year reunion. Wacky hijinks ensue. Yes. You D&D game is not complete if you can't have at least one Wacky Hijinks adventure.  To get even crazier why not have Aleena and Morgan Ironwolf there as well. All four could have been living in the apartment when going to their various schools. Sure and Skylla dated Bargle. 
Honestly, the more I think about it the more I like the idea of a "Class Reunion" style adventure.  The PCs come back to celebrate 10 years since they graduated/left home and some local guy gets the idea of disrupting the scene.   That might become my next Gen Con adventure.

This isn't too far out of an idea. The Glantri book itself suggests a "Magic School" game where all the PCs are 12 year old 1st level magic users.

Anyway. I am thinking 10 year since I am keeping Skylla at level 7. I'll use Hex at 7 as well since that would give me a good bit of comparison.  These builds will use the BECMI rules (not my more familiar B/X or Witch rules).

Both characters are basically 7th level Magic-users as per the BECMI Expert Set.

Skylla, 7th Level Magic-User (Witchcraft)
Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 15*
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 8 (down from 11)

Hit Points:  25
Alignment: Chaotic
AC: 3 (Ring of Protection +1)

Witchcraft Circle Powers
First Circle: Brews and Philters, Silver Tongue
Second Circle: Doll Curse, Witch's Charm

Spells 
First: Charm Person, Light, Read Magic
Second: Knock, Levitate
Third: Hold Person,  Lightning Bolt
Fourth: Dimension Door

Magic Items
Ring of Protection +1, Dagger +1, Staff of Enchantment, demon helm (+1 saves vs. demons and charming magic, +1 AC)


Hex, 7th Level Magic-User (Necromancy)
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 9
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 15

Hit Points: 30
Alignment: Neutral (maybe a little Chaotic)
AC: 6 (talisman of protection)

Necromancy Circle Powers
1st Circle: Protection from Undead
2nd Circle:

Spells 
First: Dark, Shield, Sleep
Second: Levitate, Phantasmal Force
Third: Fly, Hold Person
Fourth: Ice Wall

Magic Items
Talisman of Protection (AC 6)

Not bad builds. There must be something to this CHA reduction; I have seen it too many times now.  I am not a fan of it, especially in older D&D, but I guess people like how it works.
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